What is a restorative approach to behaviour, relationships and conflict?
A restorative approach is a way of working with conflict that puts the focus on repairing the harm that has been done. It is an approach to conflict resolution that includes all of the parties involved. It asks all parties to share what their involvement was, how the incident of conflict has affected them and to agree what needs to be done for things to be put right. It aims for a win-win outcome from incidents of conflict.
A restorative approach can be adopted wherever there is human conflict, from the everyday home or work situation to schools, local authority agencies, the police and criminal justice system.
What does this mean for Hackney children, young people, families and schools?
Hackney Learning Trust is committed to supporting our schools and other education settings to adopt a restorative approach. We have developed the Embedding Restorative Approaches (ERA) Project to provide expert guidance, training and follow-up support to our schools. The aims and ambitions of the ERA project are to work with schools to embed a restorative approach to behaviour, relationships and conflict. What this means in practice is that staff and, where possible, students are trained in how to engage with incidents of conflicts using a restorative response. A restorative response to an incident of conflict involves asking the following questions:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking and feeling at the time?
- What do you think and how do you feel now
- Who has been affected by this?
- What’s needed to put things right?
- How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?
What evidence is there that a restorative approach works?
We know from our own evidence locally and from the research evidence nationally and internationally that working in a consistently restorative way in schools has positive benefits for all parties:
- Schools benefit from enjoying an improved climate for learning, conflict becomes less disruptive to students’ learning, relationships are improved
- Those causing harm through their behaviour are able to learn how to behave better and are held accountable for putting right the harm they have caused
- Those who have been victims of harm are given a voice in deciding what needs to happen next so that they can heal and move on from the situation with their dignity and sense of safety restored
Ofsted has recognised the value of restorative work in our schools and colleges. Recent Ofsted reports have included these remarks:
- Hackney FE College, 2015
Learners’ behaviour at the college is exceptionally good. Staff at all levels are highly skilled in modelling and managing good behaviour and, as a result, learners demonstrate high levels of respect for staff and peers. The exceedingly effective ‘restorative justice’ approach to conflict resolution complements the college disciplinary process well. As a result, learners develop very good strategies for managing and dealing with conflict; they adopt and share these strategies within their own families and communities.
- Hackney primary school, 2012
The recently introduced system of restorative justice, which encourages pupils to discuss issues where there have been disagreements or conflict, is a formidable tool for ensuring that there is no discrimination and that pupils make carefully considered moral choices and develop the range of social skills needed to move on to the next phase of their education.
London Borough of Hackney is listed as a service provider and as a trainer with the Restorative Justice Council (RJC). London Borough of Hackney and Hackney Learning Trust are committed to delivering quality restorative practice and adhere to the RJC Code of Practice for Trainers.
Hackney is gaining a growing reputation nationally and internationally for its innovative work in restorative practice. Hackney’s work has been represented at conferences in Glasgow, Canada and Australia. We play host to a regular flow of visitors from Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. These are exciting times for Hackney and for restorative work.
How can I find out more?
Hackney Learning Trust continues to promote and support the implementation of Restorative Approaches in all schools and education settings. If you are interested in engaging with restorative practice then please contact Paul Kelly.